When Korea Republic were first emerging as a powerhouse of Asia in the mid 1980s, there was one man whose meteoric rise caught the eye of football supporters across the nation. Kim Joo-Sung was only 19-years-old when he scored on his international debut against Indonesia in July 1985, but it was to prove just the beginning of a celebrated and lengthy career.
Affectionately dubbed ‘wild horse' - due to his pace and long mane of curly hair - Kim could fill any position, with his ability to use both feet and strong positional sense. But even after his trademark mane had been shorn, Kim would always be remembered as the workhorse who has given his all for both club and country.
Born in a small town in Yangyang, Gangwon province, Kim had limited opportunities to kick a football and had to wait until his family moved to Seoul before the teenager could compete at a school with a football club. Kim's natural talent soon blossomed, and despite a call up to Korea Republic's youth reserve team, Kim had to watch on television as the Red Devils stormed into the semi-finals at the 1983 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Mexico.
The disappointment did not last long, however, as the Chosun University sophomore broke into the U-20 side for the continental championship the following year. Although his country failed to reach the world stage, Kim would eventually join the elite class of 1983 at the 1988 Olympic football tournament.
Prior to that memorable tournament on home soil, Kim scored the winner against Korea Republic's senior side in a friendly on New Year's Day of 1985 to catapult into the national spotlight for the first time. Not surprisingly, another eye-catching performance in a rematch in June earned him a place in the national team ahead of the 1986 FIFA World Cup™.
While the Taeguk Warriors returned home empty-handed from Mexico, Kim's professional career was beginning to bloom. In his first season with Daewoo Royals, Kim made an instant impact to become a crowd favourite at Busan's Gudeok Stadium, scoring ten goals in 28 games in 1987.
Despite early exits at Seoul 1988 and Italy 1990, Kim made up for the disappointment in 1991 by leading his club to another championship with a career-high 14 goals. The year also saw Kim claim a remarkable personal achievement by being crowned Asian Footballer of the Year for the third year in succession.
After a pioneering two-year spell at Bochum, Kim came back to take part in his third FIFA World Cup in 1994. But it was to be the veteran's final trip to world football's showpiece event, with Korea Republic failing to progress beyond the group stage yet again. To make matters worse, a serious knee injury looked set to curtail a great carer, only for Kim, showing trademark determination, to overcome the adversity and return to the game switching to sweeper.
In the twilight of his career, Kim lifted the K-League trophy a third time in 1997 with Busan Daewoo Royals. The ever-present captain was subsequently voted the Most Valuable Player of the season as well, a rare honour for a defender. Two years later, Kim finally hung up his boots to continue his studies. Kim's number 16 shirt at Busan (now Busan I'Park), remains retired in a tribute to a modern legend of the game in Korea.
Kim stayed at Busan for another year as an assistant coach, but he then moved on to seek a career as an administrator. As if a doctorate in sports marketing was not enough, Kim took another degree - International Master in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport (FIFA Master) - in 2004, before being appointed as a director at the Korea Football Association. Since then, the 43-year-old has been working for the KFA and is now the General Manager of the International Relations Bureau.
Clubs: Daewoo Royals (1987-1992, 1994-1995), Bochum (1992-1994), Busan Daewoo Royals (1996-1999)
National Team: 76 caps (13 goals)
Honours: K-League champions (1987, 1991, 1997), K-League Rookie of the Year (1987), K-League MVP (1997), MVP at the AFC Asian Cup (1988), Asian Footballer of the Year (1989, 1990, 1991), three-time participant at the FIFA World Cup (1986, 1990, 1994)